Seems like the date numbers are aligned correctly for this blog.  And the winter wonderland scenes have arrived, so let’s hope it’s a good holiday season for all. 

They will have to look a little harder for joy this year at Luther Seminary. Rick Bliese, their President since 2005 and Don Lewis, their CFO for about the same length of time have both resigned and interims have taken over. According to the news reports, the school has been losing money and the board felt the need to turn things around with a major shake-up. I don’t know much more about the whole situation, but the reports said fewer are going into the ministry and the split over the ELCA accepting gay clergy has further reduced the numbers going into Luther Sem. That plus increasing maintenance costs. All in all, a very difficult time for anyone to govern. 

I do know that both gentlemen will be missed by this community. Don served faithfully on the Foundation board for several years and Rick, along with his lovely wife, Nina, was responsible for reconnecting the Seminary to the community. Their annual summer lawn parties were a great opportunity for neighborhood leaders to get to know each other and I hope they will be continued. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors. 

Last week I had the chance to visit with Louis Jambois and Lorrie Louder from the St. Paul Port Authority. With an eye to the future of the light rail corridor and in the aftermath of the controversial Pelham development, (read the article in the Dec. Bugle for more background) they have taken it upon themselves to educate communities about what they do and how they go about it. A basic description of their mission is to help create jobs in St. Paul. They do that by buying industrial land - that sometimes needs some site preparation due to past uses – and selling it to businesses interested in development opportunities.  A fair evaluation of their track record would have to point to many successes, including Energy Park, and I don’t think anyone would want them to go away. They are an important piece of St. Paul’s continuing growth and future. 

We all agreed on two things, one that the Pelham situation was unfortunate and, two, that better communication would have helped and is definitely needed between all stakeholders when it comes to development along the corridor. As cities struggle to find ways to support their neighborhood institutions with diminished funding, neighborhoods are being asked to step up. When they do, there needs to be a way for them to interact more closely with the City and the Port to effectively represent their constituents. This is especially true in our southern district, which contains the largest contiguous section of industrially zoned land in St. Paul. 

St. Paul needs the revenue from that industrial land and neighborhoods need to be strategically included earlier in the development conversations. I appreciate the Port’s willingness to reach out to communities and look forward to supporting that in any way possible. 

Last week I talked about our own local Energy Resilience Group but just learned it has changed its name to Transition Town ASAP. They are hosting a series of three community meetings this winter/early spring to build momentum around St. Anthony Park as a Transition Town. The first meeting on Thursday, January 17 will be focused on coalescing the work of groups and individuals already engaging in sustainability and community building efforts.  Stay tuned at their website for full details and how you can be part of this unique initiative.

D12 – is hosting a 12/12/12 celebration of our community at the Dubliner Pub this afternoon.  Half off 12" pizzas in addition to their usual happy hour deal of $1 off of everything from 3pm-7pm. Come down and join the crowd…the Progressive dinner has been scheduled for Feb. 23, so get it on your calendar and sign-up soon…remember, you can recycle your old or broken holiday lights at the Methodist Church at Como & Hillside and drop off a toy for Toys for Tots at our local fire stations. 

Schools - Murray Jr. High will have a band concert on Thurs, Dec 13th at 7:00 pm in their auditorium. Joining them will be members of the Como Park HS Jazz band and orchestra who will be playing a few songs. This is an extension of their mentoring/collaboration which took place on November 14th…both Como and Murray offer opportunities for prospective students to shadow current students so they can get a feel for the schools. Contact the school offices to schedule a session. 

Listserv – a neighbor’s email account was hacked and sent one of those fake appeals for money to the listserv. It was quickly debunked so hopefully no one sent anything off to “Desperate in London!” 

SAPnotes – Joy of the People is having their holiday tournament the week after Xmas. Click here for more info. The Schubert Club has some fun programming coming up, including our very own Music in the Park Series line-up of lovely chamber music. 

That’s all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.